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General Topics => General Discussion => Topic started by: Ed Lecuyer on February 18, 2018, 01:37:19 PM

Title: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on February 18, 2018, 01:37:19 PM
Hi WW&F Friends.

It's rare that I will mention other preservation efforts on our forum. There are just too many important projects across our country (and around the globe) that need support. There simply isn't enough preservation dollars to go around (and, like many of you, I am particularly "narrow minded" in what I choose to support.)

That said, there is a legitimate preservation emergency in Texas where a (formerly City-owned) "park engine" was sold to a scrapper.  It's a long, complex story, but the upshot is that the city didn't contact the "right" people to deal with environmental concerns (leaking asbestos and fuel oil) caused by recent storms, and it is now waiting to "demolished" using a wrecking ball and and be cut up. In fact, the only reason it hasn't been destroyed already is due to inclement weather.

Now, fortunately there has been a last-ditch effort to save Louisiana & Arkansas 4-6-0 #503. Preservationist and steam restoration contractor Jason Sobczynski is on-site, made an inspection of the locomotive, and has made plans for its purchase from the scrapper, transportation to the Texas State Railroad, and possible return to operation. Yes, his initial assessment of the locomotive (and ultra-sound testing of the boiler) reveals that it is in mechanically good shape, but needs a new backhead, tender trucks, and cab.

Obviously this is a very fluid situation and things are constantly being developed. As of yesterday, there was a deadline of Wednesday 2/21 to come up with a viable plan for #503's removal, or it would be smashed and cut. A ground-roots fundraising effort was launched via social media, and as of this writing, over $16,000 has been raised. It will take about $50,000 to purchase and move the locomotive.

Now this is why I share this on the WW&F forum. Money is desperately needed. Jason S. not looking to "buy" the locomotive; he only wants to see it saved. (As do I.) Moreover, this series of catastrophic events only shows how relevant and necessary the mission of the the WW&F is to "educate and enlighten the general public" about rail preservation. Yesterday at the Steam Train Snow Day a first-time visitor asked me exactly what is the purpose of doing what we do - and she then came to understand that our educational goals are that purpose.

If you can help out this cause, please throw a couple of bucks at:
https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-the-la-503-friends-of (https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-the-la-503-friends-of)

I've made a contribution. I hope you can too.

Thanks,

-Ed
(Speaking in no way in an official capacity for the WW&F.)
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Al Michelis on February 18, 2018, 01:46:54 PM
Ed - Thanks for letting us know.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Gary Kraske on February 18, 2018, 02:08:43 PM
Thanks Ed;  Donation sent. Barb and Gary
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Carl G. Soderstrom on February 18, 2018, 06:55:23 PM
Seeing that the WW&F benefits from donations from other organizations - might at least a token be sent.
Not to set a precedent. But a timing appears to be essential. 
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Mike Fox on February 18, 2018, 07:08:39 PM
Undoubtedly, timing is everything. Once a locomotive is gone, it is gone. What was not mentioned in the hasty original announcement, the locomotive was underwater in August. Not completely, as far as I can tell, but this is what led up to the contractors being called in to destroy it.

As far as the WW&F making a token donation. I do not agree that an organization of our limited means should do such a thing. If our members would like to, that is up to them, but the museum should not be taking monies designated for elsewhere by the donors and donate it to another organization.

I wish them luck. Hopefully the can find someone to donate the transportation...
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on February 18, 2018, 07:20:41 PM
I agree, with Mike; the WW&F (as an organization) should probably not make a donation. I consider this an important cause and thought others may as well. (And after I made this posting, I did note a few familiar names join the GoFundMe donor list.)

The locomotive was underwater during one of the hurricanes. However, the high water mark was well below the driving wheel journals. The lead truck journals were just at the water line - so they may be fine (but would likely be converted to roller bearings, anyway.) The tender trucks are toast. Also, all tires are worn out and will need to be replaced anyway.

And someone is donating the transportation (trucking) to the Texas State Railroad (for temporary storage) at cost. Crane expenses have yet to be announced.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Bill Baskerville on February 18, 2018, 07:22:28 PM
Ed,

Thanks for the heads up.  I made a donation and passed it on to my local NRHS chapter which may prompt other donations. 

All the museums and rail preservation enthusiast need to stick together as best we can.

Bill
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Mike Fox on February 18, 2018, 07:30:44 PM
Great to hear Ed.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on February 18, 2018, 07:58:45 PM
Thanks Bill. The key to making this happen is to get lots of eyeballs on this ASAP. When I last checked, they had raised nearly $20,000, with the average donation only being $50. That's a LOT of $5-20 donations from all over.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Skyler Kimball on February 18, 2018, 10:35:07 PM
Wow! as of 9:30pm, they have reached over $21,000. Impressive fundraising, considering that about 2 hours ago they had not reached $20,000! I hope they can make the deadline!
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Stephen Piwowarski on February 19, 2018, 07:19:16 AM
Funding this AM stands at 23,400. Still a long way to go, but nearly half way there as of Monday morning @ 6:15. I'm in, even if it is broad gauge :)
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Jeff Schumaker on February 19, 2018, 10:23:00 AM
Updates, and interesting comments, can be found at:

http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=41678


Jeff S.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Gary Kraske on February 19, 2018, 10:59:27 AM
We donated again, many thanks to Jason and our Ed for notifying us all. Now, 1000 EST, OVER $25K!
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Benjamin Richards on February 20, 2018, 12:59:48 PM
Echoing the thanks of others for sharing this here, specifically. My rounds on other social media are infrequent enough that I would have missed this entirely through those channels alone.

Donation made, situation shared via FB, now awaiting the outcome with baited breath.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on February 20, 2018, 01:33:35 PM
Fundraising has topped $40,000. I've never seen an online fundraiser for rail preservation do so well, so quickly.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Kevin Madore on February 20, 2018, 04:05:43 PM
The fund raiser just crossed the $45,000 mark, from just under 900 donors.   That's an average of $50 per donor.  It's 3PM on Tuesday, and its hauled in $5,000 just since lunch.    I think it will make the goal.  Hopefully, Jason S. can at least succeed in getting the locomotive to a safe place.   According to an interview that I just listened to, he's done some quick UT tests and believes that except for the backhead, the boiler is in pretty good shape.

I looked through the list of donors......I can't believe how many of them I know.   Who says that rail enthusiasts don't spend any money?

/Kevin


Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Kevin Madore on February 20, 2018, 05:39:09 PM
Well, just as the fund raiser was about to top the $50,000 goal, the scrapper is now apparently claiming that the locomotive is worth $15,000 more than the original estimate.    My guess is that he's been following the fund raiser and sees an opportunity to cash in.   The goal is now $65K, but apparently, the long-standing-unyielding deadline has been extended to some unspecified date.   Pull the shoulder belts tight, there's turbulence ahead.

/Kevin
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on February 20, 2018, 06:13:14 PM
Didn't I say something about this being a rapidly changing fluid situation?

Anyhow, this just in from the GoFundMe page...
Broken down, the projects costs are now:
$35,000 to Inland Environment for the purchase
$10,000 to Over-the-Top Construction for trucking
$20,000 for cranes
The deadline for raising funds is now February 28th! A purchase agreement for the locomotive will be signed on February 21st.

Fundraising continues at a staggering rate: $51,560 as of this writing.

And yes, the public donor list reads like a who's who roll call of railfans and preservationists from around the country. I see a lot of our members have donated.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Bob Holmes on February 20, 2018, 09:06:30 PM
Kevin, I'm cynical enough to believe with you that greed drove the price increase.  Nevertheless, it's worth saving...
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on February 20, 2018, 09:18:57 PM
Jason S explains the price increase quite diplomatically in this Facebook video:
https://www.facebook.com/319972281379363/videos/1722686031107974 (https://www.facebook.com/319972281379363/videos/1722686031107974)
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Bill Baskerville on February 20, 2018, 10:05:46 PM
Wow, As of 9 pm Tuesday evening the total raised at the GoFundMe site to save this locomotive stands at $55,751.  The total went up $581 while I was typing this. 

However, the environmental remediation company has raised their price so the total now needed is $65k.  I would expect the funding to be at or near the $65k by tommorrow when purchase agreement is scheduled to be signed.  The Texas environmental department has granted a weeks extension to scrap or move the locomotive.

Perhaps the success of this preservation operation is a indication of why our preservation fund drive to save the Moose-Trout-Brook Bridge was so successful.  Perhaps we could add further emphasis to the preservation message of our activities.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on February 20, 2018, 10:32:22 PM
While it is too soon to call this a "success", I am pretty certain this is the first truly "viral" fundraising campaign that has hit the rail preservation community. I've seen lots of "GoFundMe"s for various projects (heck, I've helped run three for the WW&F; and have personally contributed to a few) but I never seen this level of interest.

I suspect that the urgency of a ticking clock is a big motivation. Also the mental and visual image of taking a wrecking ball to a steam locomotive I think is pretty striking. And let's not forget it's a mainline steam locomotive - everyone instinctively knows that those need to be saved, whereas not everyone understands the rarity of the Moose-Trout Brook Bridge or the Maine narrow gauge. (Let's not forget that some folks think of 2fters as oversized toy trains and are ignorant of their history and function.) I suspect that this sort of campaign will be tried again, and will probably fall short - unless all the stars are in alignment (as they were in this case) for an immediate project with mass appeal.

However, what is most encouraging is that this is being funded mainly by small donations. The average donation is about $50. This implies that there is widespread intergenerational interest in rail preservation, and that should be very encouraging to us all.

total is at $55,872...
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Rick Rowlands on February 21, 2018, 08:36:44 AM
All of us on the "Save the 503" team thanks everyone who has donated to this effort.  It is truly amazing to see how many railfans, modelers and historians have joined together for this.  We will make this happen, one way or another!
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Mike the Choochoo Nix on February 21, 2018, 10:04:35 AM
About $5000 more to go, if you haven't donated now is the time.  That's only 500 people giving $10 each. Remember that any money left over will go toward restoration .
Mike Nix
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Kevin Madore on February 22, 2018, 10:42:45 AM
It appears as if the revised goal has now been reached.   A gentleman has just donated $1,000 to put them over the top.   The current total as of Wednesday morning is now just under $66,000.   Congrats to all who participated!

/Kevin
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Bill Baskerville on February 22, 2018, 12:37:37 PM
Based on what Jason Sobczynski has posted on the site the purchase papers have been signed and there was an extension granted by the Texas DEQ allowing them until around the first week in February to move the locomotive. 

Any extra funds donated not used to purchase and relocate the locomotive to the Texas Railroad Museum will become seed money for a new campaign to make the locomotive polish the rails again.

The Royal Palm Railway Experience which is operated by the Orlando and Northwestern Railroad in The Royal Palm Railway Experience which is operated by the Orlando and Northwestern Railroad will become the eventual operator of the locomotive on their tourist/entertainment railroad.  They will assist in funding the restoration and subsequent moves of the locomotive to Florida.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on March 07, 2018, 11:21:46 AM
Update:
The City of Port Arthur canceled their contract with the scrapper and has re-asserted ownership of locomotive #503. They then voted unanimously to turn it over to a yet-to-be-formed group of local citizens for its care within the city.

In short, the locomotive will not be scrapped - this time. However, it will likely just continue to languish and deteriorate, as so many "park engines" have. It has not been announced if Jason S. intends to hold the money raised temporarily to see if the local group fails, or if he is going to submit his own proposal. GoFundMe does have strict disbursement rules, so it is unlikely that he can forward the raised funds to a group whose goal is not operational restoration.

Article from Trains News Wire: (currently does not require a Trains subscription to view)
http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/03/06-texas-city-decides-to-sell-troubled-ten-wheeler (http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/03/06-texas-city-decides-to-sell-troubled-ten-wheeler)

Article from the Port Arthur News:
http://m.panews.com/2018/03/06/council-meet-tceq-mandates-seek-new-503-funds/ (http://m.panews.com/2018/03/06/council-meet-tceq-mandates-seek-new-503-funds/)
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: James Patten on March 07, 2018, 01:02:57 PM
I'm getting a chuckle out of the locals that say "We can't let you take our engine out of town!" when it was scheduled to be destroyed, which would effectively remove it from town.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Benjamin Richards on March 07, 2018, 02:26:16 PM
The sentiment is oddly reminiscent of the collapse of US passenger rail in the 1960's. I remember one particularly cynical individual's take on the matter: We Americans view our train stations like we view our churches (and some other institution I can't quite remember): We rarely make use of them while they're around, but God help the man who tries to take them away from us.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Robert Hale on March 08, 2018, 07:27:05 AM
Update:
The City of Port Arthur canceled their contract with the scrapper and has re-asserted ownership of locomotive #503. They then voted unanimously to turn it over to a yet-to-be-formed group of local citizens for its care within the city.

In short, the locomotive will not be scrapped - this time. However, it will likely just continue to languish and deteriorate, as so many "park engines" have. It has not been announced if Jason S. intends to hold the money raised temporarily to see if the local group fails, or if he is going to submit his own proposal. GoFundMe does have strict disbursement rules, so it is unlikely that he can forward the raised funds to a group whose goal is not operational restoration.

Article from Trains News Wire: (currently does not require a Trains subscription to view)
http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/03/06-texas-city-decides-to-sell-troubled-ten-wheeler (http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/03/06-texas-city-decides-to-sell-troubled-ten-wheeler)

Article from the Port Arthur News:
http://m.panews.com/2018/03/06/council-meet-tceq-mandates-seek-new-503-funds/ (http://m.panews.com/2018/03/06/council-meet-tceq-mandates-seek-new-503-funds/)

This sounds like breech of contract to me, since legal purchase papers were signed between the scrapper and Jason with an agreed purchase price of the locomotive then the city does this? I thought the whole reason why this locomotive was to be scrapped was the "environmental" impact due to it being flooded? So how much tax payer money will be used by the city to maintain the environmental issue until this new non-existent citizen group takes control of the site and loco? This seems atypical anymore with these cities and the political nutcases elected to run them. No common sense and no intelligence at the helm.

After re-reading both articles I think that this is a serious issue, because first of all it costs money to do these contracts, and second ownership of the item should have transferred to the company to satisfy the contract. What the contractor does with the item is their business and not the city's. Let's say this was a building instead that needed to be demolished. The physical land still stays the property of the city, but everything in the building is now the property of the demolisher and if they choose to take the building down brick by brick and sell them for a profit, then that is out of the city's hands since they transferred ownership of the item to be "disposed of" off of city land. That includes the contaminated soil.
Also, where were these "concerned" citizens when the city council voted to scrap the engine in the first place? This whole thing smells bad and unfortunately a historic machine is caught in the middle of all of this. Such a shame.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Rick Rowlands on March 08, 2018, 08:53:02 AM
Jason's plan is to submit a proposal and see where that goes.  If it is not accepted then they will begin the process of refunding the money.  Not giving up quite yet.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Bill Baskerville on March 08, 2018, 09:23:58 AM
This seems atypical anymore with these cities and the political nutcases elected to run them. No common sense and no intelligence at the helm.

Tell me about it.... I live in Charlottesville.... Nuff said....
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Robert Hale on March 08, 2018, 10:12:53 AM
Jason's plan is to submit a proposal and see where that goes.  If it is not accepted then they will begin the process of refunding the money.  Not giving up quite yet.

I hope it works out.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on March 08, 2018, 11:37:17 AM
It is possible that the local group will not get enough interest (and financing) to perform any substantial restoration work. If that occurs, then Jason S's proposal would have a very good chance.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Robert Hale on March 08, 2018, 12:58:08 PM
It is possible that the local group will not get enough interest (and financing) to perform any substantial restoration work. If that occurs, then Jason S's proposal would have a very good chance.

Honestly that should have been done first before the city drafted bids to have the loco scrapped. They could have mitigated the hazmat issue while they sought out the public's opinion for the preservation of the locomotive, but I can guess how that would have gone when the city said it would have to spend tax dollars to do so before a group took over the project and then everyone would have cried about "their" tax dollars not going to roads/public works ect.
Title: Re: PRESERVATION EMERGENCY - 4-6-0 About to be SCRAPPED in TX!
Post by: Carl G. Soderstrom on March 10, 2018, 01:35:59 AM
Ed Lecuyer

Please e-mail me. I seem to be having trouble contacting you.